I awoke to a blanket of snow this morning. Not too much - an inch or so – enough to give the world a fresh, clean look (for a little while at least!). Tim had sweetly left the fireplace laid with wood, so all I needed to do was open the damper and light a match. Soon I had a roaring fire before me and the Christmas tree twinkling nearby. I sipped my first cup of tea while reading today’s meditation in The Book of Awakening. One of the Curve-billed Thrashers who’s made his home in our cholla perched all fluffed-up on an Aspen branch just outside the window. I swear he was enjoying watching the fire, too.
As you can imagine, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the various options laid out by Dr. Fekrazad concerning follow-up chemotherapy. I’ve also had some heart-to-heart talks with my closest “peeps” about the decision to be made. And I’ve gotten loads of encouraging comments, emails, calls and other support from people near and far (as always, thank you for the continued outpouring of love! You all astound me!).
I knew I didn’t want to remain up-in-the-air about this over the holidays, and with Monday being the Solstice, it seemed appropriate to make my decision on a day that marks the beginning of the return of the light. So, on the longest night of the year, I made the choice to take the “middle path” – meaning I will take the oral chemotherapy (Xeloda) but not the chemo infusions. It feels like the right decision for me: if I chose to do nothing and the cancer returned, I’d be saddled with regret on top of having to take up the fight for my life again. My intuitive belief is that I am going to remain cancer-free, so agreeing to further chemo is really just a form of emotional insurance (which is why I feel it will be sufficient to do only the oral chemo and not the infusions too).
I’m not quite sure when I’ll begin the chemo treatment. Dr. Fekrazad indicated we would start as early as January 3rd, but I’m going to ask to wait just a little longer in order to be more fully recovered from my surgery. Dr. Brown and the ostomy nurses have each said it’ll take at least 6 to 8 weeks after surgery before I start to feel like myself again. And I’m reluctant to start chemotherapy while I’m still feeling depleted from surgery!
I keep reminding myself that on Christmas Eve it will be only three weeks! Although I continue to do a bit better each day, I still easily experience fatigue and pain (generally when I do too much – imagine that!). Of course, I’m very grateful to be able to do as much as I am, but I also find myself getting impatient and wanting to be “all better” already! While Shawn was visiting a few days ago, I told her I was getting really antsy to get back to yoga practice (my last class was in July!). As I told her this, I was shifting uneasily in my chair to accommodate the pain in my bottom from sitting. She looked on with her usual yoga instructor compassion and gently suggested I might want to wait a little while longer…remember that thing about 6 to 8 weeks for recovery?
So it seems my work these days is to accept where I am in this process of healing. Often I can approach things with humor (I’ve discovered that my colostomy behaves a lot like Pavlov’s Dog – no sooner do I go through the messy process of emptying the bag, cleaning myself and the toilet up, and getting redressed, before I find the thing immediately pooping out more! So I’ve changed my stoma’s name from “Vesuvius” to ”Pavlov’s Dog”). But, on occasion, I have to let myself indulge in a full blown Hollywood cry*, especially when I find myself struggling with the permanency of all this. I know some day it will all be part of my ordinary routine, but right now learning to accept my life as it is feels something akin to grief – it has it’s own rules and time table. I’ll feel better when I feel better, and not before!
* Credit goes to my friend Michelle for coining this phrase as we compared notes on our post-surgery progress. An accomplished ski instructor, she had an accident during a routine instructor training clinic, and found herself with a badly broken tibia. Her surgery (plate and pins under the knee to put it all back together) was just a couple of days after mine. She’s already crutching around and doing physical therapy, but won’t be skiing again this season – that’s for sure! If you’re anywhere near Ouray, CO, be sure to check out her whimsical little shop The Blue Pear. (Tons of love to you, Michelle!)